Kevin Kelly, Clint Murphy
Clint Murphy 00:00
Kevin, thank you for joining me. We are going to be having a conversation on your book today. But before we do that, would you be comfortable providing a brief background for our listeners before we do, and I know that may be hard for you more than most guests I have on my show. But when it wherever you’d like to start to tell them a little bit about yourself, and then we’ll dive right in.
Kevin Kelly 00:27
Thank you very much. So I’m Kevin Kelly. I’m technically the senior Maverick at Wired Magazine. That’s an honorary title. Because even though I was co founder of the magazine, 30 years ago, I no longer have any responsibilities. And I just write about one article a year for them as a freelancer. And I also write books about the culture of technology. And diverging from all that. I recently did an Opus Magnus through early pound. master piece on photography, with 50 years photographing in convincing Asia. And my most recent book is a book advice. Wisdom I wish I had known earlier. And it’s for nifty little Proverbs, adages, little tweets about things that I learned the hard way. And maybe you might want to know now.
Clint Murphy 01:33
Excellent Advice for Living. And Kevin, when you were 68, you decided to write some words of wisdom for your kids. And every year on your birthday, you would share that. And ultimately, that led to this book, what prompted the idea at 68, I’m going to start writing words of advice for my kids.
Kevin Kelly 01:56
I’ve been jotting down for a long time. First of all, I’ve been jotting down proverbs that other people said, because I liked the format, very telegraphic Comis little kind of like a zip file that you can unpack yourself. And I realized that my kids were old enough, as young adults that there were many things were not very preachy that we had never bits of advice we’d never told them. And I decided to take the things I was writing down and to try to put them into something that would be useful to them. And a giveaway on my birthday, kind of in the Irish Hobbit tradition of giving presents on your birthday. And so they went viral. I posted them and they went viral. And I was encouraged to keep doing it. And they also continued to be viral. So after doing three and having a fourth set, I decided that we should put together into a book that will make it a little easier for people to find them and to pass them on.
Clint Murphy 02:59
And for most of these Kevin, little bite sized pieces of advice, at some point, you said tweetable. And I imagine that to make it onto the list, there’s something more behind each one of them maybe a life lesson or something you’ve experienced in your life that says, let me put this one down. For my kids does that resonate,
Kevin Kelly 03:22
I had several different criteria that I was trying to apply to these one was, I was trying to take up a lot of very complex and deep knowledge and wisdom and try to that might ordinarily be a long story in a book, or may even be entire book. And I would try to compress it into something that was very, very short and brief and succinct, the way I like to write. And so that was one thing was whether I could compress something, and I really wanted it to be practical. So when the question is, is this practical, rather than is not just is it true? But is it practical? Will it really help someone? Can they act on it in some way? So it has to be more than just true, it has to be actionable. And the second one was I to your point is I really kept asking myself, Do I really, really believe this? Is this really true? In my own experience? Is this mine? Am I just repeating something that sounds good? Or is it something that I truly believe in? And so each one has a stand that say, No, I have experience in this, I know this, this is what I really want to say. And so those two and then the third one was I able to make it short? Because there are lots of ones that just I never was able to kind of say it in a way it was complicated. There was too nuanced or require too many words. And it just never it never made the cut in terms of being able to actually compress it. So those three things were the were the criteria that I was using to, I want to include it is the practical, do I believe it? Is it short?
Clint Murphy 05:13
And I love that because what I thought might be fun, I selected a few as I went through the book and thought it might be fun to chew on them together and expand on the viewer say, Well, why did these ones make the list? And how did they jump out for you and the first one that I enjoyed, and then I saw a tweet on it the very next day in a different format. And I quote, I commented with this one liner and put your name under it was enthusiasm, or being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points. And it makes sense, because it seems that you get very passionate about what you do in life, whatever that is, in the moment that you’re doing it. What does that look like for you?
Kevin Kelly 05:58
I think this proverb about these as being equivalent to 25 IQ points came from both sides, for me and my own experience of being enthusiastic. And also a means terms of hiring and trying to work with people who I have found over time, that it really wasn’t necessarily the smartest person that I wanted to hire, it was the person who was very enthusiastic, who might not have been as smart. But I think intelligence is often overrated, and this is particularly true we’re finding out in the world of AI is that you need so much more than just plain smarts to get things done in the world. You need empathy, you need grit, you need persistence, there’s so much more that goes into accomplishing things. And by my own experiences that people who were maybe not as smart, but were much more enthusiastic. And that enthusiasm was, was about belief in the in the mission, kind of really being committed a sense of commitment, there was a sense of positivity, which is hugely important. And other aspects that were kind of wrapped up in our world enthusiastic. And that’s coming back to my side, that’s often what I would bring. And I am not by any measure the smartest person in the rooms that I’ve been in. But I could be one of the most enthusiastic about whatever it is that we’re working on. And that’s very valuable for the reasons of, we’re just describing getting something done, and being able to persevere, being able to continue when things aren’t working, being able to get other people involved and work well with others. And so I’ve seen this burnout on both sides, both as a person who’s enthusiastic and as a person who hires people.
Clint Murphy 08:01
And you mentioned that is one of the key things for you in hiring. Are there any other things that when you look at who am I going to hire to join the team or join the project? Are there any other keys that you look for Kevin?
Kevin Kelly 08:14
So there’s a couple others. One is we had the saying wired when we are hiring the very beginning of the web, when we were inventing the web was we hire for attitude train for skill. So we assume that the skill, nobody knew how to develop code, a web page, there was no web that was being invented. But we needed web developers. So who do you hire, hire people who can learn fast. And so that ability to learn fast learners was, for me a key quality is probably what you’re going to be doing. And two years from now, nobody knows how to do so you’re gonna have to figure it out? And are you a person good at figuring things out? The second one is not usual for small groups, but becomes important as you get larger. And this I learned from Jeff Bezos, and that was because I asked, I’m not sure if I asked him or someone else asked him about his hiring strategies. And Amazon in the early days is he said, Yeah, he says, the thing I was focused on is, is this person going to be able to hire other people as good or better than themselves. So he was hiring people on the basis of their hiring ability, whether they’re good judges of character, whether they themselves, were going to be able to hire new leaders. So that was very far thinking he’s already kind of like taking the long term view understanding that the people he’s going to hire we’re gonna hire other people so you they have to be really good at it. And that’s useful when you get to a certain size.
Clint Murphy 09:55
The next one that I’ll jump to with you, we talked about enthusiasm, IQ and you I also talked about hiring people that are able to figure things out. What that brings up for me is the idea of curiosity, in you wrote that being curious about another person’s view, is the most powerful way to change their view that raised for me, the idea from Stephen Covey of seeking first to understand, what did that look like for you in your life?
Kevin Kelly 10:27
Yeah, it’s said this in a different way that actually, I have a whole bunch of quotes and bits of advice that are not in the book. Either I thought of them too late, or I rewrote them later. But one of them is, is that most arguments are not about the thing that’s being argued about. And therefore you sit with an argument, you can’t win the bits of advice that’s in the book is that you can’t reason someone out of a position they haven’t reasoned themselves into. And most of the things that people believe, are not because of a reason. So I found that that rather than arguing with people, or trying to convince them through logic, that the mere act of trying to understand them, does two things one is enables me to have more empathy for them. And even if I don’t agree with them, I can at least respect them. And secondly, the very act of having a dialogue with someone else can often illuminate in a person, the areas where they need to, to change their mind is not in the act of competition in combating, it’s like there’s another bit of advice in the book about troubleshooting. So one of the principles of troubleshooting, whether it’s, you’re trying to figure out something’s broken is broken lawnmower, it’s broken piece of code, it’s, no, your TV doesn’t work anymore, and you’re trying to fix it. And a major what I have found and other people as well, a major troubleshooting solution is to articulate and go through and describe the problem to another person, step by step, what exactly is the problem? And it’s amazing how often in that process of describing the problem to another, that you see the solution, the solution comes out of that process of trying to describe it. Because sometimes we kind of get frustrating, we know that is a problem. And we just want the answer. But taking the long route around of describing a step by step will often illuminate the problem to yourself. And that’s true in discussing something controversial, whatever for another person who’s just going through with them, of asking them to step through it and to explain and say, I don’t understand that, can you tell me more about that, that process can often illuminate to other people where the problems are in their own thinking.
Clint Murphy 12:54
So by getting them to walk through the problem from start to finish, they’re almost without realizing it, diagnosing what problem and they may actually stop at some point and say, Wait a second. I don’t even need this.
Kevin Kelly 13:10
They may not admit to that. But it may begin the wheels turning a little bit in a certain direction, saying, Yeah, I can see a gap there, I can see why that might be where that may not make sense. Or maybe I need to reconsider that or that’s an area I should find out more about.
Clint Murphy 13:27
And something else you mentioned earlier in there that I want to be a bit of a dog on a bone with because I see it as a big challenge with the polarization that we’re seeing in the world with everything seeming o have a position on one side or the other. Even though there really is I agree with you there is no that yet we seem to be dividing everybody between two camps, which becomes a problem when you raise the point that we can’t reason, someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into it. So many positions that seem to be being taken, are simply taken, because they’re the default position of well, I’m on this side. And I always have to be on this side, not recognizing Well, you don’t always have to choose one way you can choose left you can choose right you can it doesn’t. Every single thing we debate doesn’t have to be on either side of that spectrum. Does that resonate with you? And how do you see us finding a way because I like you I’m an eternal optimist for the future. And this seems like something we need to do some work to combat a little
Kevin Kelly 14:42
Yeah, I think in the book again, I don’t remember what’s in it but there’s a piece of advice. You don’t actually have to like everybody. We have no obligation to like everybody but we have an obligation to respect them. And part of what you want to do with people have views that you don’t I agree with is to try to understand what it is. And that understanding may least diminish your annoyance may not change your mind or change their mind, but it can reduce the annoyance that you might have, if you canretain respect for that person. So there’s this weird thing of respecting, in some ways, people with a very different view that, and that doesn’t mean we necessarily have to either condone their behavior. I mean, if having a view is one thing, acting like a jerk is a different thing. And so respecting that person, to the degree that they are earning that respect, again, help us get along with people that we disagree with. I don’t see ever somebody word utopia, where everybody agrees, and nobody’s in violent disagreement. I don’t see that ever being possible, or maybe even desirable. So if we just assumed there’s, there’s gonna be people who are really coming at something in a completely different way than us. So how can you believe that? The way to do is you can have these discussions and try and change each other’s mind, which is fun and good, and maybe even useful to the world. But if you can’t, then you can still understand them. Why the understanding, meaning that I accept but the real key thing in having debates, we’ve had some debates, and one of the key ways to have a debate is the other side has to be able to recapitulate the opponent’s argument to the satisfaction of that opponent. Right. It’s forever if we’re ever in disagreement about, you know, I don’t know guns, I need to be able to articulate your position to satisfaction that you say yes, that’s, that’s what I’m saying. And that requires a degree of listening and understanding that is very, very powerful and can help us accomplish things even though we’re in disagreement.
Clint Murphy 17:17
There’s some element of a requirement to separate the person, right from the idea that behavior and the first time I saw what you’re saying was, when they had the televised Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris debate in that Jordan Peterson said, in any argument I ever have the the word debate, I want to be able to before I respond to anything, say back to the other person and have them agree that I’ve understood their position. And I find that fascinating, which takes me to the next one, which is somewhat avoiding the argument altogether, because you brought up the idea of bite sized pieces of advice that were tweetable. And I spend a fair amount of time on Twitter. And a lot of people talk about it as a cesspool of negativity. Yeah, I find that one of the most fascinating places for meeting good people, learning from others growing. For me, it’s the greatest spot I’ve ever been. And part of that is we get to curate our own feed. Sure. So if I if I curate my feed to it, not to say that I’m curating for echo chambers, but I’m curating to not be in a sea of negativity, if you will, Kevin, and this tied to the idea that you said, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. Yeah. How does that jump out for you?
Kevin Kelly 18:46
Well, very simple. I mean,take your example of Twitter. So I have, you know, Twitter, you’re invited to, to join the outrage. And I just deliberately avoid I deliberately choose not to be outraged. Today, I’m not going to be outraged. And so I will not follow the people who are outraged or not. Listen, you know, not like the than outraged posting. So I choose today not to be outraged. And that’s kind of like not choosing to attend an argument. And the Twitter is a outrage amplifier. And people think that it’s the place that outrage works, but it doesn’t really and so you can curate your it’s another word. You know, you can curate your life that you don’t attend the arguments that you’re don’t need to go to and so your life will be better for that. There are places for our rage, but it’s lookalike a lot of things. You don’t need very much of it and before it becomes an overdose, before becoming toxic So I have this image is like a rare earth, mineral or element, which your body with the body, or needs, or outrages appropriate at times. But any large dose of it is toxic. Your body needs calcium, very tiny doses. If it has too much calcium, it’s completely toxic. It’s the same with outreach.
Clint Murphy 20:27
One of the things I love that you said there was you choose not to be outraged, which is something that seems to sometimes be missing in people. And when when you think of words of advice is the Viktor Frankl is that gap between stimulus and response in choosing how you’re going to react, but in your life? How have you been able to expand that window, so that you’re better able to make those choices not to be outraged or not to enter into the argument?
Kevin Kelly 20:57
It is true, but I am a very deliberate person I have always been and you know, I have a fairly high degree of self discipline. And I would say that I have a natural amount of that maybe higher than average, but I also have chosen to become more deliberate. If that makes any sense at all, I just literally have become more deliberate. Okay. And so it is a habit and a skill. It’s a habit. And I think talent is unevenly distributed in the world and our birth. But everything, every virtue, and every talent can be improved. So no matter where we start, we can always get a little better. And I think if you’re moving in that direction, that’s great for you, and maybe all that can be asked and so other people may find it harder to be deliberate, but it is something you can get better at. And you can take your whatever a little bit of deliberateness you have and choose to be more deliberate. And there you go.
Clint Murphy 22:04
Yeah. And over, I echo that over the last 13 years, probably the things I’ve worked on the most for my talents would be consistency, being intentional and deliberate. And most of all, is just increasing that gap between my stimulus and my responses. Sure, it as Victor says, that’s where the magic happens. If you work on these things, within three years, you’re completely different than when you started working on it deliberately. So it resonates what you’re saying there. The next one I’d love to riff on with you is whenever you can’t decide which path to take. Pick the one that produces change.
Kevin Kelly 22:40
Yeah, I’m very pro change, you have to be careful about, you know, changing for the sake of change. But in this case, where you’re stuck, I think the bias towards change will yield, on average, better results than sticking in the same place. I think in general, most people, when they’re older, near death, the regrets are about things that they didn’t do, rather than things that they did. And so that lost opportunity, the change, but more likely to should promote regret, if you don’t choose it, then continuing of what you’re you’re already doing. So there is a bias, it doesn’t mean always necessarily that that’s the right thing for you. But on average, I would say the bias is towards change.
Clint Murphy 23:38
And as someone who’s studied change and technology, and always with an eye to the future, how do you see the pace of changing your record owing? Because it feels to me, especially with AI, that we’re accelerating at an even faster pace?
Kevin Kelly 24:00
It is. And that’s actually one of the reasons why we have to keep changing is because the environment around us is changing. And it is true that it can be exhausting, that that rate of change can be exhausting keeping up and there are people who find it exhausting and don’t want to change I think what I found is that n you can kind of balance some of that changes necessary with a reliance on things that don’t change. And so, in my own experience, the people that to me that seem the best adjusted to this really fast moving world often have a core that is very stable. It’s like I think it was Jim Collins who wrote the book from good to great. So he did the study of companies. And he was comparing that the good companies to the bad companies. He was comparing the great companies to the good companies, which was very clever and very insightful and what he said the difference between the great ones. And the good ones was the great ones had a, a mission, a core that never changed, they may have changed the entire businesses that they were doing. But they had some core that never changed. And it was the core that never changed, and being adaptable and everything else that enabled them to be long lived, you know, to go into reach greatness and so that I think the same thing is kind of true, but people in a certain sense, you want to have this core of wisdom, say, of a being where you’re very, very consistent and reliable and unchanging. And that permits you to be very adaptable and flexible, and a friend of change in so many other things. And so, for me, that’s what I have seen in myself and other people, is the way that you live in this fast changing world and not become exhausted is that you have a core that is unchanging, and reliable and consistent and dependable, and it’s a center where you can kind of rest. And by the way, rest is a large part of that having a Sabbath having sabbaticals taking time off taking a break. Those are all to me instrumental in the ability to have to deal with fast paced staying change that never ceases.
Clint Murphy 26:32
And when you say sabbatical, how often How often would you recommend or would you look at in your life to say I’m going to take a sabbatical? And what is the sabbatical look like for you in duration and location? Maybe?
Kevin Kelly 26:45
So, no, traditionally, sabbatical is every seven years. But what the best way to think sabbaticals is the kind of just a complete shift in what you’re doing. But the important thing is that you, you don’t want to have expectations of being hugely productive in it. If you’re just shifting from one ambitious project to another ambitious project, that’s not a sabbatical, you actually have to have, it has to entail some level of rest recuperation, refreshing, and do nothing missing it, there has to be a sense of where you are doesn’t look like success, where it is not being measured by productivity. That’s the part of the sabbatical part where you’re actually taking a break from things. It doesn’t. It can be a month, it can be two months. But the thing is that it’s not like you are we do this and push there because you’ve burned yourself out. It’s something that you again, choose to do intentionally, before you’re burnt out. Where you say, I’m going to take a sabbatical, I’m going to take time off, I’m not going to think about I’m going to play instead of work and play in the sense of non competitive, no goal, explorations or rest or relaxation or fun or all those things. And so that’s what it entails andcan be whenever you think you might need it or might be useful. And if you’re producing and creating on a regular basis, then you want to have your sabbaticals on a regular basis too.
Clint Murphy 28:36
Do you differentiate a sabbatical to some extent from a long vacation? Like if you go away for a four week vacation? Are you calling that a vacation? Or it’s not quite a sabbatical? Right?
Kevin Kelly 28:47
No, it could be it’s the break. It’s, you know, staycations vacation sabbaticals, unplugged, unplugged retreats, they all have different intensities and lens, but it’s the idea of, of that shift of that different mode where you are not trying to be productive.
Clint Murphy 29:11
That scares me a little. And I want to take one.
Kevin Kelly 29:13
I said elsewhere that, you know, the best work ethic requires a good rest ethic. Some people are literally the idea of taking even half a day off every week, no matter what scares some people they say it’s impossible not do anything working zero every day. I mean every week. How can you get things done, or I wouldn’t get as many things done, and they find it scary. But the people who do it realize how incredibly powerful it is. And so many dimensions. No, about Sabbath here every week, one day or even half a day every week no matter what. That is incredibly powerful. And you same work, you’re missing, you know, 1/10 you’ve reduced your productivity by 1/10. Know, you’ve increased your productivity by 10 times
Clint Murphy 30:13
Because of the effect of the recharge. It’s exactly why the rest of the week.
Kevin Kelly 30:18
Looking at the world differently and this goes back to the Drucker, you know, thing was like, it doesn’t matter how hard you’re working if you’re working on the wrong thing. And one of the things that sabbaticals and Sabbath is do is to, to keep giving you a chance to say, am I working on the right thing?
Clint Murphy 30:34
When you talk about the Sabbath, the other thing that really helps us do is the ability to reconnect with our loved ones, our friends who are not with.
Kevin Kelly 30:45
Right, exactly, which is the more important work that we’re doing
Clint Murphy 30:49
Absolutely. In you talk about one that reminds me of that concept, and how to win friends and influence people when we want to improve our ability to connect with others. The one thing you say is to be interesting, be interested, right? How has that served you in life? And how does it serve someone who wants to get ahead?
Kevin Kelly 31:13
Yeah, I just heard a talk from David Brooks. It was really good. And he was saying, he’s a journalist. And he was talking about the moral dimension of having conversations with people and asking questions. And he says a lot of reporters or other people, when they’re sitting out, are often reluctant to ask other people, maybe they’re sitting at a dinner table. Maybe they’re sitting on a park bench, maybe they’re even a random stranger on a bus. People often very reluctant to ask personal questions. Because they expect people might say that’s none of your business. But he says it’s quite the opposite. And that in, you know, whatever, it’s 40 years of, of interviewing, asking people and very, very personal questions. He says, Never once. Has anybody said, That’s none of your business. Most people just would love to talk about their lives themselves. Tell you, and are just delighted that you’re asking. And so that, yeah, that act of being interested in someone else just unleashes so much. Love goodwill. And by the way, cooperation, so many other things, that is incredibly powerful tool to be interested in someone else genuinely interested in to be actively listening to what they’re saying. And for most people, you can’t be too personal
Clint Murphy 32:58
And when you want to start that dialogue. Let’s say you’re at a dinner table, and you’re seated beside someone you haven’t met before. In you know, the way to have a really good conversation with them over that dinner is to get really interested in something that they find interesting, or is their passion. Do you have any go to questions given that that you use to get right in there, I do to the heart of it.
Kevin Kelly 33:22
I do. And I have a little game, which I think I mentioned the book, my little game is I know this other person, this other random person that I’ve ever met, no matter who they are, I know that they know something about something far beyond I know that there is something that they are expert on. Maybe even the world expert. And it’s not going to be obvious what it is. And so there’s a game of like, finding out what that is. And sometimes my first question, my very first question after Hello, might be things like, what do you know, the most people don’t know? What do you know about the most people don’t know? Or what are you excited by these days? Or what excites you? Or what do you do for fun? And very quickly, we can start to get to some interesting places. And I’m interested, and they’re going to be interesting, and I’m going to be interesting to them even though I didn’t say anything.
Clint Murphy 34:24
And Kevin, if I heard you potentially on another podcast also say something along the lines of what is something that you’re very interested in or passionate about that the other people here today? Don’t know. You’re passionate about is that when that resonates with
Kevin Kelly 34:42
you, you have my definition of a heresy. And the addiction isn’t a heresy is what something that you believe that the people that you most admire. Don’t believe. People that you respect, find crazy or weird or whatever. What’s a heresy? That’s a We’ve had many conversations that’s a little deeper, that requires a lot more trust. That’s not where I would begin a conversation.
Clint Murphy 35:08
But when you get to know people and you want to
Kevin Kelly 35:11
Yeah, and people have to feel pretty safe to do that. But it is a great way to have a conversation.
Clint Murphy 35:18
And it might have been that actually because it was just last week that I was listening to the hair see episode that Tim put out with the five of you. So when we go back to sabbatical, SAVVIS and taking time off, and pursuing what you’re passionate about, I would jump to the conclusion that that means you have to say no to a lot of things. So you can say yes to the things you want to do. And you talk about the beauty of coming to a realization of in your life, that no, is an acceptable answer. Even without a reason this right, how much do we need to reinforce that in people .
Kevin Kelly 36:02
A lot, a lot, you need to learn how to say no, politely, but firmly. And you don’t owe anyone an excuse or reason. And you I think, do yourself a disfavor when you try and give yourself an excuse, not required. And I know from my end, when I receive other people who are giving me know without reason. I find it perfectly acceptable. And I don’t require a reason from other people. I had a mentor, I will call them now. Who had a remarkable ability to say no. And I love I long try to figure out what it was. And here’s how he was doing it. He was saying no, in a way that made it seem as if it was a favor that he was telling you no. Okay. So it’s like it’s in your interest for him to say no, it was like, wow, how does you know that’s, so I’ve tried to do that as well as again. But that’s not necessary. You don’t even need to do that you can just play say, you know, I can’t do it. I regret Monday, you know, whatever. And so politely but firmly, no reason needed.
Clint Murphy 37:29
I love that. The next one I want to make sure I get in because it’s a was a pretty powerful one was this idea, and I’m seeing it as I get older is that I like to think of life sometimes as seasons and seems everybody gets married at the same time, then everybody has babies at the same time. And you go through those seasons of your life, and I’m entering what feels like a bit of a season of death where older aunts and uncles and potentially parents you’re starting to see for the first time, people passing away and it’s becoming more and more and you talked about this idea of not reserving our kindness prays for a person until their eulogy. Yeah, and not only telling them while they’re alive, but I thought it was beautiful that you said write them a letter. And I wanted to see why that writing of the letter resonated so much more than just talking
Kevin Kelly 38:27
was one was person who had not went even further. And he would have he was doing where he wrote them a letter and then went to see them and read and read the letter to them in person. That’s like, I’m not really quite ready for that, because that’s very intense. But very, you know, very emotional, and of course, very meaningful if you were to do that. So I’m just letting you know that there’s another level, for those who are ambitious, is tell the person while they’re alive, write them a letter, go visit them, read them the letter, or tell them what you’re gonna say. So it’s very, very powerful. It’s very catharsis for both sides. And, you know, it’s what’s the word I want, I have been to a number of funerals was like, Why didn’t we do this? When they were alive, so that they could have heard everything that people were going to say, and there is a tradition, cos it’s called Fentress. Fenn, Thrift, where there was a couple of people to different times when there were people were getting older and their children arranged this where they had people write things, and made a little book. So all the friends that went around and said, say something that he’d want to say to this person while they’re alive, and we’ll make a book out of it and give them the book. And that was very, very, very beautiful. up. And there was another one where they did a, they had a gathering together like a funeral or awake before that while the person was still living, and they had friends come and toast to that person. And that is also very, very powerful. But you don’t need to wait until the end, you can, it’s actually more powerful to do it now. And this is something that I’m trying to do more of myself, just because I have older friends. And so it would be great for me to kind of a cultural habit out of it.
Clint Murphy 40:33
And the other side of that you talked about as well, which, which is similar to the ideas from Bill Perkins, in his recent book die with zero is this idea that flipping the table now with my children, hey, why am I waiting until I die? To give them my inheritance? I don’t get to see them enjoy it, right? They’re probably too old by then. Right? When did they need the money? When is the best time? And how do I get the joy out of seeing them get that so in other words, giving them the the some of their inheritance, if you could afford it earlier in their lives, what does that look like as an important one for you?
Kevin Kelly 41:07
Right, and by the way, is something we’re discovering ourselves is that the way this is kind of resolving in our own lives, is helping the kids get a house 100%, that’s sort of like what it comes down to is like, it’s I mean, the Bay Area, it’s like, it’s literally impossible for a young person to buy into the scheme. And so helping them with the house, that sort of something. When they need it, we get to share their joy in it. It’s very, really useful to them. So that’s how it’s kind of working out in our own lives. But either way, there’s another book called die broke, which was preceded, but it was the same idea of you want to do two things. One is that you’re kind of trying to direct your own, whatever abundance that you might have, to the next generation in a much more reasonable way, in part because having a generation inherit wealth is not a good thing for them, either. But if you’re alive and trying to direct it, you can manage it better. And help them clarity, so to speak. And at the same time, it’s good for you in terms of being able to enjoy and direct that gift. And so it’s about how to give gifts better.
Clint Murphy 42:40
It’s beautiful. And I resonate with what you’re saying about housing, I live in Vancouver, which is in Canada, our version of the bay for house prices. And by day, I’m a CFO for a real estate developer. So we often refer to it for our potential clients, it’s often or homeowners or home purchasers. It’s the Bank of mum and dad. And it seems to be the only way to get into the into the market. Kevin, the last one, I’ll throw it out at you from the book, and then hopefully, take you through a couple rapid fire questions, we’ll do a combo of one trying to cheat a little here and two together. But they’re both short. So the idea that the greatest teacher is doing, let’s start with that. And I’ll see if I can pull up the second one, or if it didn’t save, and five years from now, so the greatest teacher is doing. And five years from now, you will wish you had started today.
Kevin Kelly 43:40
Yeah, this combined with a lot of other bits of advice about doing things on a regular basis and accomplishing big things by incrementally approaching them through many iterations. And you wouldn’t be able to have another bit of advice, you only get to a really great idea by having generating a multitude of really bad ideas. And this idea of prototyping your life rather than having grand plans of getting there in kind of an experimental, incremental way. So all combined about doing things is you don’t want to make a big deal. You want to make like a continuous number of small deals. You want to be doing things on a regular basis, knowing that most of the things you do aren’t going to work. If you’re doing them on a regular basis, then you you’ll come to understand that there’s more from where that comes from. If you kind of reserve the thing where I’m going to try and write and it’s a big thing and writing the great American novel and I’m just get started and it doesn’t work. And then therefore I’m not a writer, I can’t go that’s not prototyping, you want to make you want to, you want to try a little thing you want to want to do write 500 words a day or 100 words a day just on a regular basis no matter what. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad. It’s the habit of writing, it’s th=he habit of making it, this the thing that you’re doing, you’re going to do a podcast, you can do it every week for years, whether it’s a good one or not, you’re doing it. And that was how you make a great one over time. And so that process of doing them, you will make mistakes, the things will fail. But that is, by far the best teacher, reading about doesn’t work. Hearing about it doesn’t work. But actually doing something and having it not work is how you’re going to learn to make it work. And so, and this is particularly true if you’re trying to do something that no one’s done before, which I hope you do try. Because nobody knows how it works. And so you’re usually going to be failing all the time for a while. And it but the whole point is that you want to do this in a kind of incrementally small way where you are managing your failures. But keeping them small, fast, often, forward, fail fast, fail often, fail forward, fail better. And the idea that you kind of expect things where you’re going to make something to throw away, you made the first version to throw it away, you’re gonna make a rough draft, you’re gonna miss the whole book, and you’re gonna throw it away and write another draft, you’re gonna make the first prototype chair out of cardboard, and then you’re gonna make one out of plywood, and then you’re gonna make one out of fine wood. You’re gonna make a movie by making the script and then the storyboards and then the animatronics and then the scratch version, and then you’re gonna make the final thing. So this is this process of making and remaking is the only way you’re going to get there and doing it is the way that you’re going to learn. And with these little steps, because they’re a little step, you just take a little step over and over again, you can start today, right, and we overestimate what we can accomplish in six months. But we underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years. So you just do this every day for 10 years. And, you know, like all the YouTube stars, Brownie, he made 100 videos. And on his 100 videos, he had 100 video, he had 90 subscribers, nine, zero 100. And now of course he has, you know, whatever it is 90 million, but he made 100 of them. With only 90 subscribers he was it was the fact that he was doing it. And the 100 allowed him to learn how to do it. And so I’m a really believer in quantity. And repetition, or repeating the habit in creation, I think is really, really important. And it’s important for two reasons. It’s important if you want to get better, but it’s also important, just for the joy of it, I do a piece of art every day, I’m not trying to become a professional artists, I’m not trying to make a portfolio, I’m just doing it, because I enjoy doing it. I share it because why not? It’s so easy, but I’m doing it for the pleasure and is that the reward for work for good hard work is you get to work more, the reward for doing it once is it, it’ll help you get to do it again. So it’s not just all about kind of a way to maximize profit and become rich and famous. That will work too. And that’s the way to go there. But it also works through just the pleasure for the habit of it partially
Clint Murphy 48:39
works because not a lot of people are willing to show up every day. No, put in the reps and thinking decades over days. And we won’t dive into it but it ties to you talk about this idea that you know there is no getting rich quick there is no overnight.
. Yeah. And the thing it was I think what Disney here first did is we don’t make movies to make money we make money so we can make movies. All right. And so we want to be doing things not so you reduce the amount of time that you do it. But so that you expand on it so you do it as long as you want to work on the things where you want to work on them as long as possible. Spend as many hours as you can. And so yeah, like a lot of the stuff is making habits you know, there’s a great book on making habits atomic habits by James clear and it’s very clear about the steps but you can make learning and doing and gratitude and other things like intentionality are habits that you can get better at.
Clint Murphy 49:47
Kevin, do you have a couple minutes for for rapid fire questions are usually throughout. Okay. What’s a book that’s had a material impact on changing your life?
Kevin Kelly 49:56
material impact Hi, I just mentioned atomic habits by James clear who’s top of mind that was a very influential book in terms of refining the habit of habits. By far, the most influential books on my life has been the whole earth catalog, which I encountered when I was in high school. I later was so enamored of it that I was my first real job was working there and then originally took to go over it. And it was called access to tools. And it was people sharing the tools to help them live a good life. And I sort of continued that with my own cool tools website and recommend, oh, they’re all basically derivative of the whole earth catalog. And its mandate to share tools and practical stuff, tips and whatnot. So that has shaped hips shaped me in tremendous ways and made me a better person, and is still something that I arranged my life according to, which is kind of Yeah, sharing, how to do things sharing how to become a better person sharing how to sharing tools. So another new ticket, a third one, believe it or not, there’s a book that I had all my kids read, which was, What color’s your parachute? What color’s your parachute? is a really good book, when you’re looking for a job, for the first time, especially. And there’s a better book by Dan Pink called Johnny Bunco, I think, I don’t remember the graphic novel, which kind of was what to do when you get your first job now how to find your job. But once you have your first job, what do you want to keep in mind, and both of those, the core, the core insight, and both of those is that finding a job is not about sending resumes. It’s about making personal connections, and trying to think like the people that will hire you that and I kind of reduced some of that advice in the book to this idea that if you approach someone looking for a job with the idea that you need the job. And that’s why you want a job, it’s because you need it, you’re just another problem for that person, you’re bringing your problem to them. But what you really want to do is you want to be a person that solves problems for the potential boss, you want to be able to go say, I know you have a bunch of problems, I’m gonna solve your problems. So that requires a degree of empathy, because you have to put yourself in the shoes of that person and say, Well, what are they looking for? What were the problems that they’re trying to solve, I want to be the solution to that rather than I’m going to bring your problem to you, which is I need a job. And so that kind of empathy is what I got from what color’s your parachute is switching it around, and not just sending out endless resumes, but saying, find a person taught an actual individual in somewhere that you want to work and have lunch with them, find out what it’s like to work at the place, find out what their problems are, what they’re looking for, and talking to that person. And that’s how you sort of find a job. You because you’re kind of matching, you’re somewhere where you’re matching your abilities to solve a problem with someone who needs those abilities. And so, that was a very practical book. That, particularly for me, the process of looking for job that I could use with my children.
Clint Murphy 53:46
I love it. And what’s on your shelf right now.
Kevin Kelly 53:49
What’s on my shelf right now. Oh my gosh, I have so many bookshelves I have to steal my stories of books everywhere.
Clint Murphy 53:59
Oh, which one? are you digging into?
Kevin Kelly 54:01
What am I reading right now? I was rereading actually, I was the thing with what was the last thing on my Kindle. And it just there was just a free reading from Annie Dillard. Beautiful, lyrical writer that made me want to be a writer, her first book. And what did I have over by my bed stand? I think it was a book about happy families. Nice, loose feeler.
Clint Murphy 54:29
And the last one for you. What is one mindset, habit or behavior that you’ve changed that has had an oversized positive impact on your life?
Kevin Kelly 54:39
Particularly a lot of them in my book and it’s called excellent vice wisdom I wish to note earlier and practical one of those was mentioned I was working for the horse Kellogg. And that was one of my first jobs in his dream job, but I was a do it yourselfer and that had been all my life and I I made a house from scratch, cutting down the trees and making lumber out of it was totally insane. And I have built stuff here, parts of you know, whatever, I’m a huge do yourself believer and kind of like we did some homeschooling, make your own home, you make your own school, the power of the individual to do things is really, really profound. And we have so many tools these days that allow individuals to do things yourself. So now with YouTube and Amazon, I can do repairs of all kinds of things that I couldn’t possibly repair before. But that was kind of a constraint that was kind of like I realized, and I wished I had known earlier that overcoming that, by understanding that I was just limited in what I could do. And that you can hire great people who can do things often better than you can or you can’t do. And that that is really the way to leverage your power in the universe, your impact. And so the way I say it now is the most precious thing that we have, that I have, that you have is something that even the wealth of a billionaire cannot buy more of which is our time, the 24 hours a day, the billionaire, everything is free, except they cannot buy more time. So that is so my time is the most precious thing in the world in New York time, is the most precious thing in the world. And if I can convince you to give me some of your time to work on my project, that is the best bargain in the world, no matter how much I pay you. So I now understand that hiring out. getting other people to work on the things that I want done is like this is the best leverage in the whole world. And so I go to Upwork all the time, whenever we have something we always say, do we have we done just enough that we can specify it as outsource it. And I’m very happy to hire professionals to do things that I could do. But I want to use my time for something else. And so this idea of hiring out is something I wished I had known when I was younger.
Clint Murphy 57:24
Absolutely. And my wife has joined the team behind the scenes. And I’m working really hard to educate her on that with Fiverr up work, virtual assistants that are now located around the world. Like the opportunities are endless. Stop doing honey, start hiring people. And I’m saying that because she listens to this that she edits it, she should probably outsource the editing, or
Kevin Kelly 57:51
contact Claudia, my assistant and she’ll tell you who we use to our podcasts. It’s like there’s no reason to someone else is going to be very, very happy to have that work. And I’m very happy to give it to them.
Clint Murphy 58:08
Perfect. And I want to respect your time you’ve gone over our hour. Yeah, Kevin, is there anything we didn’t cover that you want to make sure you leave with the listener?
Kevin Kelly 58:17
There are so much more that we didn’t cover but I’m really happy with what we have. So thank you for your time and attention. I’m grateful for the thought that you’ve given this book and I hope other people’s find it useful. I know I’ve heard from several different parents who say look, my kids, don’t listen to any of my advice, but to listen to someone else. So I give them my book. And so yeah, exactly. Thank you again for your support. Thank you